Catching up with Dennis Hauger

Catching up with Dennis Hauger

Three races into the Formula 2 season and with the dust settled on Melbourne, we find ourselves in Barcelona. More specifically, we find ourselves in the paddock of Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya, hiding from a torrential downpour in the MP team truck. Sat across from us is Dennis Hauger, and with mechanics working around our impromptu interview setup, we had a nice chat ahead of the in-season test.


For those who aren’t familiar, please introduce yourself… 

I’m Dennis Hauger, I am a Norwegian racing driver and I’m currently competing in the Formula 2 championship.


How are you?

I’m good thank you, I’ve been at home in Norway since Australia mostly. Doing some training and sponsor work, but it’s nice to go home for a bit of a breather and to find a routine between races.

Let's go back to the beginning, how did it all start?

I’ve been around racing from a young age and I would say it’s in my blood. My father drove in national rallying back at home in Norway when I was a kid, so I grew up seeing that and it’s something I’ve always loved and had a passion for. When I was young I was always watching racing on TV, it was never football or any other sport, always racing.  

When I was two years old I got my first quad bike. We live in the countryside, so I was driving around the fields as a baby, still wearing a diaper and with a pacifier/dummy in my mouth. So I guess it all started there, very early in my life. When I was four I got my first motorbike and my first kart when I was 4 or 5 too. 

Do you still ride bikes at all?  

No, I rode them until I was about 8 or 9. I enjoyed both but decided to focus on competing in karting, which I enjoyed more. At around that same time I had a big accident on the bike, and had to go to hospital so I think after that my mum wasn’t too keen on it either, so maybe that was part of stopping with the bikes too. 

What has been the biggest highlight so far?

My formula 3 championship is the biggest thing for me, winning that was a really cool moment. 2020, my first year in F3, was a tough season. Not just in terms of racing but with Covid that year and living alone in the UK, I was struggling to find the motivation at the end of that season. To come back with Prema in 2021 and bounce back to have a good year and win the championship, was a very important acheivement for me. Not just career wise, but honestly also mentally in learning how I wanted to approach things going forward.

So we’re three races into this season, how would you say it’s going so far?

I would say quite well, I think there has been setbacks like in Melbourne obviously and without that I could be leading the championship quite easily by now. But that aside, overall the pace is looking really strong. The team is doing a very good job and I think we are working very well and hard together now to maximise everything and that we are in a good place to fight for the top spot. So yeah, feeling good and motivated ahead of Imola and Monaco next. 

When a weekend doesn’t go to plan like Melbourne, how long do you dwell on that for? 

I think for me it depends if there is a race right after, if we’ve had a bad one but we have another race the next day or next week then it’s about quickly resetting and focussing on what went wrong and where we can improve. But when there is a longer break like we’ve had since Melbourne, there is more time to reflect, obviously taking the things that went wrong into account but also the positives that went down that weekend, like pole position and P2 in the sprint. I think it takes me a day to just get the frustration out of my system, in Melbourne after the race, I went into the city and went for a run just to clear my head, and that helped in the moment and now overall I took the positives from it, took time to reset and recharge and I moved on quite quickly.

What do you do to get into the right headspace before a race?

I think the most important part for me in the warm up is the juggling, it helps get my hand-eye coordination up together and to get me into a focused mindset before I race. After the warm up and before I get in the car, I’ll put my headphones on and listen to music. My last song before I race is always the same one actually, it’s called Hell Yeah by Rev Theory, it’s a rock song which helps to get me a bit more hyped and pumped up before we go on track.

We often see your family in the paddock, how important has their support been over the years?

I think for me as it is for many other young athletes, it’s obviously one of the most important things growing up. I think particularly in motorsport, for example my dad was my mechanic when I was a kid, so we spent a lot of time together, driving around, going to race weekends and just enjoying what we both love. So since the beginning, my family has been by my side, there for me in the bad times and we've enjoyed the good times together as well. They’ve been a huge part of the journey.

What were those early years like? Any fond memories you can tell us about?

Yeah of course, I remember at one point my dad bought us a motorhome and we would drive it around and stay in it from race to race. I remember my mum making us smoothies in there and coming out before a race and giving that to me. There was one race weekend I remember in the wet, it was like a two hour race with two drivers, but the other driver only did fifteen minutes and so I drove for almost two hours in the rain. When I came back in I was so cold that I couldn’t move, and my parents both came up to me with blankets and wrapped me up together and that’s a sweet memory to have. I have so many good memories, but that one sticks in my mind as a fun and relaxed one of us enjoying what we loved together.

And the team around you, your trainer, manager, the guys at MP, those relationships must be really important too? 

Yeah it’s super important, I think over the years as you work with several different teams, managers, trainers, you create bonds and have certain people who you work well with and really learn from. Especially in the younger stages it's super important. With MP now I’m really enjoying working with them, we have a good relationship and really push each other to try and see improvements, so yeah I think that’s vital to help you make progress as team, as well as for myself to develop as a driver and as a person in general, these relationships can be really valuable. 

And friendships outside of racing?

I think it can be hard, depending on what kind of person you are and your background, but for me it’s always been really important to have that part of my life as well, to have people outside of the racing world, and when I spend time with them I don’t have to talk about racing all the time. People who have more normal jobs and day to day life, I find it interesting to talk to them about that, just casual conversations and not just racing. It’s a good thing and something I value in my life. 

How old were you when you realised this was what you wanted to make your career? 

It came step by step and was never really planned, as a kid I was just enjoying  what I was doing and kept moving forward with it. But when I started driving internationally at about 11 years old, a team approached us after seeing my lap times and snatched me up. Suddenly I was driving in Italy with them, I started to win championships and got signed by CR, the factory team in karting and I won the German championship twice with them. When I got picked up by Red Bull for the junior program, I guess at that point  it became more of a reality and a goal rather than a dream. So I was probably about 12 or 13 when I realised I could do something good with this if I focussed and kept working for it.

Looking ahead, are your sights set on F1 or do you think about racing in other series too?

To be honest I know that this is going to be my last year in formula 2, obviously I’m doing the Formula E tests soon which is a great opportunity and experience to get. But right now I would say I’m fully focussed on this season, trying to maximise and win the championship. That is the only goal I have at the moment, and if I do really really well and we bring it home with a points gap as well, who knows what can happen in F1 - that’s always the ultimate target. But to stand a chance I need to focus on this year. It’s a limited number of spots and it’s a big circus with a lot of factors at play, so you never know. 

Who are your favourite drivers to watch race?

To be honest there’s not a specific driver I’m looking at, but I enjoy watching all kinds of racing, IndyCar, Formula E, F1, F3, it doesn’t really matter it’s always interesting to watch other drivers, their driving styles and the paths they take. You know everyone is a bit different in that sense, so to see how other people work and react to situations is something I can learn and take away from. 

In life and in racing, who would you say inspires you most?

In life, my dad. He’s the one who taught me a lot when I was young, he’s always supported me and been with me on this road. Also watching him drive when I was young, I’ve always looked up to him in some way. 

In racing, Vettel and Schumacher, Vettel was one of the guys I watched on TV when I was a kid back when he was winning with Red Bull. It’s not like I’m idolising him, but I respect him you know? I’ve never been the kind of guy to have a poster on my wall, I’ve always wanted to focus on my own thing, but yeah I think those two in this sport I always saw them as the cool guys from my childhood looking up at this world. 


How do you find all the travel that comes with racing?  

Yeah I enjoy the lifestyle and we’re lucky to visit some cool places, but it’s hard sometimes too. If you're at a point when things aren’t going your way and you’re working your ass off to try and reverse that, but it's not happening it can be difficult to travel so much and not really get what you want out of it. But in general I am enjoying it, the flights could be shorter sometimes but being on track and doing what you love is all worth it. 

What do you miss about home when you travel?

I miss my family and friends, and my own bed. 

Any favourite places you’ve visited through racing so far? 

I would say Australia is one of the cooler places we’ve been, and the track itself is really cool, so overall that week in terms of atmosphere and the experiences off track is a favourite. Going to China for Macau last year was a really memorable experience too. Macau is quite different to anywhere I’ve been before, another long flight, but it's a different vibe and it was really interesting to see. It wasn’t planned for me to race so I flew out very last minute. I got the call because Franco got hurt and he couldn’t race. I was P2 that weekend and fighting for the lead before the safety car came out on the last lap. I didn’t even know the track, so to go down there and finish on the podium was really really cool.

Can we talk about your tattoos?

Yeah I have 5 or 6 now, the piece on my wrist was the first that I got and it’s basically different elements about my life, I was supposed to put a script of text on there too, the same writing that is on the back of my helmet. “I never lose, I either win or I learn.” I guess I’ll add that at some point but I’m waiting for the right time. This took about 6 or 7 hours, so it was a lot for my first time. I had just turned 18 when I got it, I wanted to get it before then actually but my parents said no. As soon as I was old enough I went and did it

How would you describe your personal style…

I don't think I have a certain brand or person I look at in terms of fashion but when I’m home I like to dress in more baggy clothes, I guess more street style maybe, but it's a bit up and down and I don’t think I have a specific style. But I like to wear things that are a bit different at times. 

When I was in F3 I said “winner winner, chicken dinner” after a win, and after that I got a chicken sponsor. So I should try to say something smart now and mention a brand who I’d like to have.

Oh yeah, can you think of any?


Haha nice. On that note I think we’re all done, thanks for answering our questions and see you in Imola! 




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